Jiu-jitsu will only be making its Asian Games debut later this year in Indonesia, but UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation CEO Fahad Al Shamsi already believes it will have one of the highest number of participating countries.
The 18th Asian Games takes place in Jakarta and Palembang in September, with a record-equaling 42 sports being contested – including all 28 full Summer Olympic sports.
Jiu-jitsu is easily one of the most popular sports in the UAE, with the nation also becoming pioneers across the globe in both promoting the sport and hosting tournaments.
And ahead of the Federation’s pride and joy spectacle – the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2018 – starting in the capital on Saturday, Al Shamsi says it is the perfect warm-up to the Asian Games.
“This is very important with the Asian Games coming up in a few months,” Al Shamsi said at the launch of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“More than 2,500 athletes from outside the UAE coming for the competition which shows the importance of the competition.
“It’s a big test and the players will be at a very strong level as they build up to that. The UAE and all other Asia countries have a strong jiu-jitsu programme.
“We have 36 countries competing at the Asia Games in jiu-jitsu, it’s one of the most number of countries competing. I think football is more. And it’s the biggest individual sport.
“It’s exciting and we believe in our programme, in our players. They will use their experience to represent the UAE in a good way. When we go there we will represent the country well.”
Al Shamsi is excited by the fact many other Asian countries are sending their stars to the tournament, with some even coming to the Emirates for training camps ahead of September’s Games.
“Some national teams have been doing training camps here through the Asian union, like Iran, Indonesia and Thailand,” he said.
“Indonesia are hosting the Asia Games. That they’re training here shows the importance of the role played by the UAEJJF.”
It’s special year for the tournament, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. There’s a host of special events planned to mark the occasion, such as the King of the Mat contest which pits former winners against each other, while prize money is at a record high.
“It’s the highest one in terms of prizemoney ever,” said Al Shamsi.
“Dh4 million, which is attractive. I don’t think you can find another jiu-jitsu competition in the world that offers the same. There’s big exposure, high prize money and the level of competition is very high.
“Former champions will be competing in the King of the Mat competition, but most of them are still fighting. They have played in one of these competitions before and all of them are still fighting in other organisations or competitions.
“We expect the level to be very high.”
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